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Cinema to reopen with new regime to cut virus risk

PUBLISHED: 13:41 20 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:01 20 May 2020

The Arc Cinema in Great Yarmouth will open on July 4 if the government gives the go ahead Picture: Pause Time PHotography

The Arc Cinema in Great Yarmouth will open on July 4 if the government gives the go ahead Picture: Pause Time PHotography

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A newly-refurbished seaside cinema is aiming to reopen with new measures to allow for social distancing once lockdown is lifted.

The Hippodrome Circus is planning for a self-distanced summer that will allow the show to go on Picture: Hippodrome CircusThe Hippodrome Circus is planning for a self-distanced summer that will allow the show to go on Picture: Hippodrome Circus

The Arc Cinema on Great Yarmouth’s Golden Mile says it is hoping to be screening blockbusters for movie fans from July 4.

A statement said: “We are working towards reopening the cinema on July 4 on the assumption that we are in fact permitted to reopen then.

“We’re very excited at the prospect of being able to reopen after what has been a difficult period for everyone.

“We are working very hard on, and have given a huge amount of thought to, a wide range of measures that we are putting in place to ensure the safety of staff and customers while delivering the fantastic cinema experience that people expect from us.

Albert Jones, Managing Director at Pleasure Beach Great Yarmouth, says he will control numbers to the park when lockdown is lifted Picture: Lauren De Boise.Albert Jones, Managing Director at Pleasure Beach Great Yarmouth, says he will control numbers to the park when lockdown is lifted Picture: Lauren De Boise.

“Areas being worked on include changes to our ticketing systems, scheduling, and foyer to support social distancing; improved sanitisation procedures and extensive staff training.”

Under the government’s 50-page document setting out the country’s phased return from staying at home, hospitality and leisure sectors could look to reopening in some form from July 4.

Also looking at ways they can operate while ensuring social distancing is Great Yarmouth’s Hippodrome Circus.

The historic venue is planning to book every other row and to sit families four seats apart in the hope it can resume performances by the end of July.

Christine Jay said it would mean cutting capacity by up to two-thirds.

Unlike most other theatres their seating was staggered with multiple aisles making social distancing possible, she said.

At the Hippodrome one of the issues was also bringing in acts from across the globe where ‘R’ factors and quarantine would come into play.

However, a glut of performers also found themselves trapped in the UK when everything was forced to shut on March 20 so the talent was available, Mrs Jay said.

The Hippodrome Circus is planning for a self-distanced summer that will allow the show to go on Picture: Hippodrome CircusThe Hippodrome Circus is planning for a self-distanced summer that will allow the show to go on Picture: Hippodrome Circus

She stressed no final decision had been made, but that they were hopeful of opening in some form.

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Talking about how it would work she said two seats in from every aisle would be left empty with families four seats apart.

Mrs Jay was confident of being about to reopen the indoor adventure golf in the former Windmill Theatre, as the holes were the required distance apart, and said outdoor crazy golf courses would also be able to demonstrate they could operate within guidelines.

Meanwhile, she was keen to urge a council re-think on its strategy of keeping public toilets and car parks closed as part of its stay-away message to tourists and day trippers.

The Arc Cinema in Great Yarmouth will open on July 4 if the government gives the go ahead Picture: Pause Time PHotographyThe Arc Cinema in Great Yarmouth will open on July 4 if the government gives the go ahead Picture: Pause Time PHotography

She said locking up the facilities did not deter those who wanted a stroll along the prom and would likely need the toilet and somewhere to wash their hands.

From a hygiene point of view it made sense to open the toilets, she said, and not to divert drivers onto residential streets.

At Great Yarmouth’s Pleasure Beach Albert Jones said he was looking to operate a closed gate limiting the number of people in the park and on the rides during various time slots.

The numbers had been calculated based on the current 2m guidelines.

Entry would be cheaper than the current wrist band prices and turnaround time on rides likely longer.

He has not so far been able to open the upsidedown house attraction or bring over a new £500,000 ride stuck in Italy since March.

Meanwhile, the Pavilion Theatre at Gorleston has cancelled its seaside summer show for the first time in 27 years.

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Stuart Malkovich said there was no chance of it being staged this season, although they were looking at how social distancing could be achieved at the cabaret-style tables and controlling how people used the facilities.

With so much uncertainty about who could mix with who in the audience, let alone behind the scenes and with dancers on stage having to perform lifts, it was difficult to know what a new socially-distanced operation would look like and if it could pay its way.

Adding to issues inside the theatre, many of the show goers came from vulnerable groups and often arrived by coach, he added.

At Great Yarmouth’s Britannia Pier Andy Green of Family Amusements said they were keeping a watching brief while assessing the situation and planning for various scenarios.

The government’s “roadmap” document also suggests non-essential retail could open by June 1 and that primary school children have at least some time in the classroom before the summer holiday break.


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